Myths and Misconceptions About Peeing in Your Wetsuit

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You did what in your wetsuit?!

peeing in your wetsuit

There’s a well-worn saying among divers: there are those who pee in their wetsuit, and there are those who lie about it. We’re not 100% sure if that’s true, but there are plenty of myths and misconceptions we can clear up about making the bladder gladder underwater.

Drinking Less Fluid Prevents Having to Pee
It’s never a good idea to dive dehydrated. Not only does dehydration increase your chance of decompression sickness, the body is naturally inclined to create urine when submerged in water.

There’s a physiological effect called immersion diuresis. When you drop into water that’s colder than the ambient air temperature, vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) occurs. Extra blood is sent to the central organs, which your body interprets this as a fluid overload. The body signals the kidneys to produce urine and your brain tells you it’s time to drain the main vein.

In layman’s terms: warm air + cold water = need to pee.

Here’s one more reason to ensure you drink enough water. When the body is dehydrated, urine has a stronger odor and color. So do yourself (and everyone else on the boat) a favor and stay hydrated!

Just Hold It
Fighting the urge to urinate can lead to a urinary tract or bladder infection, especially for women. This extremely painful condition isn’t something you want to deal with on a dive trip – especially in a location where the antibiotics needed to alleviate the problem might not be readily available. So let it go, let it go.

Urine Damages Your Wetsuit
Under normal circumstances, urine will not break down the seals or glue on a modern wetsuit. Divers using a wetsuit with an insular lining should take extra care to wash their suit with appropriate cleaner after soiling it (we hope you’ll do this regardless). While urine won’t damage a wetsuit, a soiled, unwashed wetsuit can cause a skin condition similar to diaper rash.

Peeing Helps Keep You Warm
Pee proponents often describe how a mid-dive release can make a cold dive much warmer. Unfortunately, the effects are temporary and counter-productive.

Warm urine fools your body into thinking it’s no longer in a cold environment. So when cold, fresh water enters your suit, your body isn’t prepared. Now you’re worse off than before and your body must expend extra energy warming up that cold water.  If fresh water isn’t being introduced, either because your suit has great seals, or you haven’t “flushed,”  that means you’re soaking in your own urine. That’s gross. Here are some better ways to keep warm while diving.

Now that we’ve covered some myths and misconceptions, let’s talk about some urination etiquette.

Always Flush!
Don’t wait until you’re walking across the beach or boat deck and get a whiff of something stanky. Take a moment to properly flush your wetsuit. Below are two techniques, consider using both for maximum effectiveness.

  1. Grasp the chest of your wetsuit and pull it away from your body a few times.
    Open the wrist, feet and neck seals on your suit.
    Repeat.
  2. Rotate into a head-down position.
    Let a stream of bubbles flow from your regulator into your wetsuit via the neck seal.
    Alternately: use your alternate to “flush” air through your wetsuit.

IMPORTANT: Ensure you have sufficient air supply and good buoyancy control before attempting this method.

How to Pee Like a Pro

Take care of business at the beginning of a dive rather than waiting until the end. This creates a greater opportunity for urine to wash out.

Avoid foods that make urine extra-odiferous such as: asparagus, brussels sprouts, garlic and salmon.

Don’t pee in a rental wetsuit. Consider the human who has to clean it.

If your wetsuit has seen a few too many bathroom breaks, visit a PADI® Dive Center or Resort to purchase wetsuit cleaner, or treat yourself to a brand-new wetsuit. Most wetsuits only last three to five years and many divers hang on to old dive gear for too long.

Further Reading
Tips for Putting on Your Wetsuit
Overview of Wetsuits and Drysuits